Setting fire to a church an evil deed

| October 7, 2009

There is something insidious about all acts of arson, something sneaky, twisted and cowardly.

But to burn down a church _ where adults come to pray, where children come to learn _ somehow makes a vile act even more sordid.

Early Thursday morning, some sick individual or individuals set fire to the Sidney Center United Methodist Church and a nearby barn.

This was done in the middle of the night, a time preferred by arsonists … and cockroaches.

Officials say they have no evidence that the church fire was a hate crime, and technically, they may be correct. But make no mistake about it, hate is always in evidence when somebody burns down a house of worship.

A Delaware County Sheriff’s Department arson task force was already working on eight suspicious building fires and four incidents of vandalism involving arson before the church was set on fire.

Most were seasonal residences clustered in an area to the south and east of Delhi and all involved uninhabited residences in isolated rural areas.

That is, until the brazen act that destroyed the Sidney Center United Methodist Church.

"It’s gone to a different level," Undersheriff Douglas Vredenburgh said. "What is the motive?"

What, indeed?

Vredenburgh said some things found at the sites of the fires indicate the same person may be involved in all of them.

"We don’t have evidence to link one fire to another, and we can’t definitely say they are all the work of one person," Vredenburgh said. "But there are indications that they are all connected."

So, it may well be that we have a serial arsonist or arsonists on our hands. One thing is pretty certain. Whoever it was will be caught, not only because of what we are confident will be excellent police work, but because whoever did this is too craven and stupid to escape justice for long.

What’s more, if the arsonist or arsonists thought they could break the spirit of those who worshiped at the church, they couldn’t be more wrong.

On Sunday, the congregation prayed at the Sidney Center Fire Hall, and more people showed up than at regular services in the church.

The church will be rebuilt, and good shall triumph over an evil deed. A building was destroyed, not an ideal or a faith.

We urge anyone with information about any of the arsons or who hears or sees anything suspicious to call 746-2336 extension 0 or (888) 914-9111. Anyone seeing someone starting a fire should call 911.

"Don’t hesitate," Vredenburgh said. "If it feels or looks wrong, just call."

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Category: Church Security

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